Saturday, 9 November 2013

But where do you get your protein from?

Being on a plant based diet, the question I get many times is, "But where do you get your protein from?". And when a carnivore asks me this question, they usually do it with a "I got you now" look on their face. Despite popular carnivorous belief, protein is abundantly available for herbivores. But first, let's talk about what protein is and it's importance.

Protein is basically a large complex molecule which is made up of one or
more chains of amino acids which are linked by peptide bonds. The amino acids that are linked up to make protein are available in our bodies. The only catch here is our body can make 14 different amino acids but our bodies require 20. So that means 6 proteins need to come from outside sources in the form of the food we eat. The 14 our bodies make are considered non essential proteins and the rest we must get from food are called essential amino acids. They are called essential because of the fact our bodies doesn't produce them and we have to get them from outside sources.

Protein is a vitally important component of every cell in the body. Protein is used by the body to repair muscle, rebuilds cells, and is a building block of bones, cartilage, skin, and blood. You body only needs a certain amount of protein to function well. Extra protein is not necessary and will not make you stronger. Too much protein can actually be dangerous.

But you have to eat meat to get the protein that a person needs, right? A vegan can never be strong like a meat eater because a vegan has no foods with protein, right? Carnivores have us herbivores up against the ropes and cowering when the topic of protein comes up, right? Wrong to all three. 

There are many, many plant based sources for protein such as green leafy vegetables, avocados, sweet potatoes, broccoli, lentils and beans, nuts and seeds, non dairy milks, and whole grains to name a few. 

Spinach is very high in protein as are mushrooms, corn, oatmeal, and whole grain pastas.  

If a variety of plant based foods are consumed, you will easily get all the essential amino acids your body requires. 

Now for the real advantage - when you get your protein from plant based foods you're also getting a package complete with phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All these add up to amazing health and contribute to preventing disease! On the flip side, animal proteins are combined with unhealthy saturated fats and high levels of cholesterol with no antioxidants, fiber, phytonutrients and almost no vitamins and minerals. Yeah, you're getting your meat protein but you are also contributing to potential heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, turning on those cancer cells, etc.

There you have it Mr. or Mrs Carnivore. That's where we get our healthy proteins from. No need to ask the question again.

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